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Aug 07 - 13, 2000

Separate support prices for rice, paddy

The government would offer support price for rice and paddy, and a policy would be made to provide better prices to their farmers.

This was decided at a meeting held on Thursday with Chief Executive Gen Pervez Musharraf in the chair.

The meeting was informed that support prices for the new crops of wheat and cotton (phutty) had been fixed at Rs300 per 40kg and Rs725 per 40kg, respectively.

The CE agreed with a proposal by National Security Council member Shafi Niaz that support price for rice and paddy should also be offered to the farmers for the new crop.

He directed Food and Agriculture Minister Shafqat Ali Shah Jamote and the NSC member to work out a rice and paddy policy with a view to providing better prices to their farmers, official sources told.

He stressed the need for having a comprehensive 'agricultural marketing policy' to deal with the export of surpluses. He directed that a committee be formed to prepare comprehensive crop-wise proposals and institutionalize the agricultural marketing mechanism.

The committee would be headed by Mr Niaz and Mr Jamote with representation from the ministries of commerce and finance as well as the provinces.

Appreciating the efforts put in for the formation of the agricultural strategy, the CE approved Rs5 billion for the development of various new avenues in the agriculture sector.

A briefing by the agriculture minister focused on self-reliance through food security, import substitution and export-oriented outlook. The aim of the agriculture strategy is to maintain an annual growth rate of 5 per cent, increase productivity, reduce input cost and make efforts for increasing competitiveness.

New Amnesty Scheme has higher tax rate

The government announced on Wednesday a new Tax Amnesty Scheme that offers the holders of the undeclared assets and black money to whiten their resources by paying an increased income tax at the rate of 11 to 14 per cent.

The new TAS beginning from Aug 3 will remain enforced till Nov 30 this year without further extension. "No further extension in the new Tax Amnesty Scheme and after Nov 30, those who would not opt for the scheme, will have to face tough time", warned the minister for finance Shaukat Aziz.

Giving the details at a news conference, the finance minister said that those who would opt for the new scheme in August will have to pay 11 per cent income tax. Similarly, 12 per cent, 13 per cent and 14 per cent will have to be paid respectively by those who would apply for the scheme in September, October and November, 2000.

New fertilizer policy in the offing

A new-fertilizer policy being prepared by the government to meet the growing demand was discussed at a meeting of Minister for Industries, Production and Commerce, Abdul Razak Dawood with the representatives of fertilizer producers here on Wednesday, an official press release said.

Razak Dawood assured the business community of a hassle free and market driven environment. He said that government believed in transparency as it had consulted all the stakeholders of the respective sector prior to formulating any policy so that a level playing field was guaranteed to all.

He emphasized upon the need of maintaining self-sufficiency in fertilizer production as the country had meagre foreign exchange earning as well as the country's infrastructure had no strength to shoulder large quantities of fertilizer imports.

Sugar holding period reduced

The Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) decided on Wednesday to reduce the holding period of sugar in government warehouses from 90 days to 30 days to ensure that the commodity was quickly dispatched to the local market for consumption.

Advisory council soon

The Ministry of Information and Media Development has decided to establish an advisory council on information and media development.

The main objective of creating the council is to enable the government in general and the ministry in particular to benefit from the vast experience and the valuable insights of private citizens from different fields who could provide independent critical observations.

Privatization ordinance soon

An ordinance is likely to be issued soon to provide a framework for resolving post-privatization problems, Privatization Commission Chairman Altaf M Saleem told top bankers at the State Bank office on Monday. SBP Governor Dr. Ishrat Husain also attended the meeting convened to discuss how best the banks can market the privatization programme at home and abroad.

Citibank to participate in privatization

The Citibank has expressed its willingness to take part in the privatization programme. Paul Collins, Vice Chairman Citibank called on Chief Executive Gen Pervez Musharraf on Monday and evinced keen interest in the privatization programme.

He said that Pakistan has highly talented and industrious professionals as the Citibank has benefited greatly from their expertise.

'Glaxo-Beecham merger

The proposed merger of drug giants Glaxo Wellcome plc with Smithkline Beecham plc in the UK is expected to become effective during the third quarter of the current year, the board of directors of Glaxo Wellcome Pakistan stated on Monday.